Lake Michigan experiencing seasonal alewife die-off

Lake Michigan experiencing seasonal alewife die-off

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DNR News

June 22, 2022
Contact: Jay Wesley, 616-490-5090 or Gary Whelan, 517-242-2764

Lake Michigan experiencing seasonal alewife die-off

AlewifeAlewife, small prey fish that reach 2 to 9 inches in length, are experiencing a seasonal die-off in Lake Michigan, an  event that frequently occurred 20 to 60 years ago but has been rare in recent times.

Not native to the Great Lakes, alewife migrated from the Atlantic Ocean into the Great Lakes through the Welland Canal in the 1920s.

Alewife spend most of the year in deep, cold waters. In the spring and summer, they migrate to nearshore areas to spawn and search for food. Some alewife come out of winter in a weakened state and don’t tolerate changing conditions such as large temperature swings. The combination of poor over-winter condition, temperature changes and spawning stress cause the die-off.

“The die-off is larger than normal this year and something we have not seen in years,” said Jay Wesley, Lake Michigan basin coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “We are seeing the die-off extend from Muskegon all the way up to Cross Village and out to the Beaver Island complex.”

The DNR is fully aware of the situation and believes this is a natural event and not caused by pollution or disease. Both state and federal agencies annually collect alewife to evaluate their condition and abundance in Lake Michigan.

For more information on die-offs (also known as fish kills) in Michigan, visit Michigan.gov/FishHealth. The public is welcome to report fish kills at Michigan.gov/EyesInTheField; such reports are valuable to the DNR’s ability to manage the state’s aquatic resources.

If you suspect a fish kill is due to non-natural causes, call the nearest DNR office or Michigan’s Pollution Emergency Alert System at 800-292-4706.


Note to editors: An accompanying photo is available below for download. Caption information follows.

  • Alewife: Alewife, small prey fish that reach 2 to 9 inches in length, are experiencing a seasonal die-off in Lake Michigan, extending from Muskegon all the way up to Cross Village and out to the Beaver Island complex.

 

We recently launched a new website, and we’d love to hear what you think via this brief survey. Thanks for helping us improve our site for all users!
DNR News Digest – Week of June 6, 2022

DNR News Digest – Week of June 6, 2022

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News Digest – Week of June 6, 2022

Two adult men, both with dark skin, proudly show off their catch.

“Three Free” Weekend is coming up June 11 & 12!

Here are just a few of this week’s stories from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at Michigan.gov/DNRPressRoom.

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of the images used below, and others, are available in this folder.


Photo ambassador snapshot: Lovely Ludington light

A lighthouse stands tall against the backdrop of purple-gray dusk as gentle waves lap at a sandy shore.Want to see more pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Marybeth Kiczenski at Ludington State Park in Mason County? Visit Instagram.com/MiStateParks to explore photos and learn more about the photo ambassadors! For more on the photo ambassador program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182.


The most important tree? Your family tree!

A close-up of several peoples’ hands laid on the trunk of a tall tree.Whether you’re wondering how to get started researching your family history or you’re already deep into genealogy, you can gain new skills and understanding at the Barbara J. Brown Family History Seminar, July 8-9.

Attend online or in person at the Archives of Michigan, part of the DNR’s Michigan History Center in Lansing. Designed to promote family history awareness and teach genealogy research skills, the annual event is hosted by the Archives in partnership with the Michigan Genealogical Council and with the generous support of the Abrams Foundation. The two-day seminar is $45.

Dr. David McDonald, an older man with pale skin and light blue eyes, smiles in a portrait. This year, the Barbara J. Brown Family History Seminar welcomes Dr. David McDonald, CG, as the featured speaker. A professional genealogist with more than 45 years of research experience, McDonald has shared his expertise at state and regional conferences across the United States and in the United Kingdom. He will offer three sessions during the seminar, including strategies for locating records from closed or extinct congregations and communities of faith.

As always, the event brings together a slate of state and local experts who share their knowledge in sessions that look at a variety of genealogy topics and resources, ranging from the 1950 U.S. Census to coroners’ records – plus, there is a behind-the-scenes tour of the Archives of Michigan.

The deadline to register is July 6. Check out the complete schedule and registration information and book your spot today.

Questions? Contact Kris Rzepczynski, senior archivist/head of reference, at 517-335-2595.


Pheasant Fridays: pollinators, wildlife habitat and more

A field of black-eyed susans and coneflowers during golden hour.If you’re looking for a fun way to spend half a day outdoors, mark the calendar for an upcoming Pheasant Friday: special events hosted at different state parks in southern Michigan throughout June, July, August and September.

The DNR is partnering with Pheasants Forever on the program. It is open to kids and adults, though younger guests must be at least 6 years of age to participate. Pheasant Fridays will emphasize firearm safety and Pheasants Forever’s effort to restore habitat for these beautiful birds.

Everyone will get the opportunity to shoot a BB gun in a safe environment with expert instruction. There also will be hands-on activities to learn about grasslands and birds, butterflies and other pollinators that support healthy wildlife habitat.

Pheasant Fridays are offered on these dates at the following locations:

No reservations are needed, and all Pheasant Fridays are free. Visit each event’s webpage for information on start times and meeting locations. Please note that a Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry into Michigan state parks. Events will be canceled in the event of rain or lightning.

Questions? Contact Bill Fischer, Pheasants Forever, at 989-395-5945.


Natural Resources Commission meets Thursday in Lansing

A flock of black cormorants fly over vegetation and dunes on the shore of a bright blue lake.Both the fisheries and wildlife subcommittees will convene at the next meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission, scheduled for Thursday, June 9, in Lansing, with presentations on Michigan fish health and cormorant control efforts. The agenda also includes a Partners in Conservation Award presentation, the 2021 deer harvest survey report, and several land transactions and land use orders.

The day starts at 9 a.m. in West Campus Rooms M119-121 at Lansing Community College, 5708 Cornerstone Drive, in Lansing. See the draft meeting agenda at Michigan.gov/NRC.

For more information or to request time to speak at the meeting, contact Victoria Lischalk at 517-599-1067 or NRC@Michigan.gov.


THINGS TO DO

“Three Free” Weekend – two full days when residents and nonresidents can fish, ride Michigan’s off-road trails or visit state parks and state-managed boating access sites at no cost – is set for June 11-12. Regulations still apply, and always put safety first.

BUY & APPLY

Summer is prime time for outdoor fun; if you’re looking to get away locally or somewhere a little further, make sure to get your Recreation Passport. It’s just $12, and gives you access to all 103 state parks, state forest campgrounds, harbors, trails and more!

GET INVOLVED

Review and comment on the state land review for Delta, Kent, Livingston, Menominee, Montcalm, Oakland, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Saginaw or Tuscola county by June 24. Public meetings are scheduled for June 15 and June 16.

We recently launched a new website, and we’d love to hear what you think via this brief survey. Thanks for helping us improve our site for all users!

DNR Get Involved – June 2022

DNR Get Involved – June 2022

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DNR Get Involved – June 2022

group of volunteers with full trash bags in grassy field

Here are a few ways to get involved in taking care of Michigan’s natural resources in June. For more opportunities to volunteer, contribute and provide input, visit Michigan.gov/DNRVolunteers.


Help restore natural areas at state parks

volunteer hauling branch out of forestSeveral state parks in southern Michigan will host volunteer stewardship workdays in June. Volunteers are needed to help with removing invasive plants that threaten high-quality ecosystems or collecting native seeds for prairie restoration.

Please note that registration is required for all volunteer workdays.

Workdays will take place:

  • Saturday, June 4, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Brighton Recreation Area (Livingston County)
  • Sunday, June 5, 10 a.m. to noon at Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan County)
  • Friday, June 10, 1 to 4 p.m. at Waterloo Recreation Area (Washtenaw County)
  • Saturday, June 11, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Highland Recreation Area (Oakland County)
  • Saturday, June 11, and Saturday, June 25, 10 a.m. to noon at Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County)
  • Sunday, June 12, and Saturday, June 26, 9 a.m. to noon at Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County)
  • Tuesday, June 14, 4 to 6 p.m. at Bald Mountain Recreation Area (Oakland County)
  • Saturday, June 18, 10 a.m. to noon at Muskegon State Park (Muskegon County)
  • Saturday, June 25, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Island Lake Recreation Area (Livingston County)

More details about each workday can be found on the DNR volunteer events calendar.


Tell us what you think about your state forests

trees in summer forestIt’s time to talk about your state forests.

Prescribed burns, timber harvests and other activities are carefully planned to keep Michigan’s nearly 4 million acres of state forest healthy and thriving.

Plans for these activities are currently being made for 2024, but public comment is welcome now, before those plans are finalized. In-person open houses were suspended during 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many forest management units are returning to in-person open houses this season; you may also comment online or in writing.

To find out what activities are planned, choose the geographic area you are interested in on the interactive map. Submit online comments through the map during designated 30-day periods. If you’d prefer to attend an open house in person, scheduled dates are listed below.

Once public comment has been received, a meeting called a compartment review is held. That’s where plans are finalized. Contact the unit manager for details on how to attend an in-person open house or compartment review. The DNR’s Forest Resources Division welcomes public comment on all forest activities.

Units with comment periods in June are:

  • Atlanta: Comment period is June 12-July 12; open house is July 12; compartment review is Aug. 4. Contact Cody Stevens, 989-785-4251.
  • Gaylord: Comment period is through June 16; open house is June 15; compartment review is July 14. Contact Lucas Merrick, 989-732-3541, ext. 5440.
  • Gladwin: Comment period is June 13-July 13; open house is July 13; compartment review is July 19. Contact Patrick Mohney, 989-426-9205, ext. 7640.
  • Pigeon River: Comment period is June 20-July 20; open house is July 20; compartment review is Aug. 16. Contact Mark Monroe, 989-983-4101.
  • Traverse City: Comment period June 6-July 7; open house is July 6 in Traverse City and July 7 in Kalkaska; compartment review is July 12. Contact Dave Lemmien, 231-922-5280.

See all scheduled comment periods, open houses and compartment review meetings for the 2022 season.


Give your opinion on latest state land review recommendations

woman and young girl on trail through forestThe DNR is hosting virtual public meetings to provide information on the state land review process and opportunities for feedback on recommendations on whether to keep, exchange or sell DNR-managed public land in 10 counties: Delta, Kent, Livingston, Menominee, Montcalm, Oakland, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Saginaw and Tuscola.

The state land review stems from the 2013 DNR-managed public land strategy and involves review of certain parcels of state land to determine whether they are contributing strongly to the department’s mission. The review process involves DNR-managed lands that are 200 acres or less in size or that, due to an irregular boundary, may be difficult to manage.

The meetings will be held:

  • Wednesday, June 15, at 6 p.m. – Join Microsoft Teams meeting or call (for audio only) +1 248-509-0316, 631562135#, Conference ID: 631 562 135#
  • Thursday, June 16, at 2 p.m. – Join Microsoft Teams meeting or call (for audio only) +1 248-509-0316, 66705848#, Conference ID: 667 058 48#

Participate in either meeting by following the given Microsoft Teams link. You don’t have to have Microsoft Teams on your computer or smart device to join, but please note that each link is specific to its meeting date and time, and the links will not be live or accessible until each meeting is “opened” by the moderator. Anyone without access to a computer may call in using the phone number provided.

Visit the DNR’s land review webpage for more information or contact Kerry Heckman at 517-643-1256.


Get trained to be a community scientist, help find resilient ash trees

group of people around table with ash tree branch on itFor over 10 years, scientists have been assessing large, resilient ash trees for their tolerance to the invasive emerald ash borer, but they need your help to find more of these lingering ash trees in forested areas. Finding more of these trees will improve the USDA Forest Service ash breeding program, which is breeding native ash for increased resistance.

You could find the next ash tree for the breeding program by searching in public forested areas or your own woodland. The DNR is hosting an event to help you learn how.

Lingering Ash Tree Training Workshop:

Thursday, June 9, 6 to 8 p.m.
Maybury State Park, 49601 Eight Mile Road, Northville
Meet at the Hickory Shelter

Friday, June 10, 6 to 8 p.m.
P.J. Hoffmaster State Park, 6585 Lake Harbor Road, Muskegon
Meet at the Picnic Shelter

This training is open to forestry professionals, community volunteers and private woodland owners. It will focus on lingering ash found in either public or private forested settings. Resources related to private woodland management will be shared, but the training will focus on the background story of lingering ash, how to identify ash trees, how to survey public areas or your own forested land, and how to identify and report lingering ash.

We will cover how to report your findings with or without smartphone apps TreeSnap, Avenza and Anecdata. If the location allows, we will go on a walk to see a remnant ash population.

Please contact Kelsey Dietz at DietzK2@Michigan.gov with any questions. Preregistration by emailing Kelsey is preferred. The workshop will be held outdoors under a covered shelter.


Explore fishing, ORV riding, state parks – and find your ‘why’! – during ‘Three Free’ Weekend

collage with photos of ORVs, mom and young son fishing and dock over a lakeSometimes the first step to getting involved is experiencing the resources for yourself! If you’re new to fishing, ORVing or exploring state parks, next weekend could be a good start to seeing all of Michigan’s valuable natural resources and great recreation opportunities and why the DNR, many partners and volunteers work so hard to keep our outdoor places healthy and beautiful.

“Three Free” weekend – two full days when residents and visitors can fish, ride Michigan’s off-road trails or visit state parks and state-managed boating access sites at no cost – is set for Saturday, June 11, and Sunday, June 12.

The weekend includes:

  • Free fishing. Grab your gear and cast a line! Twice a year, you can enjoy two days of fishing without a license. All other regulations still apply.
  • Free ORV riding. Ride more than 4,000 miles of state-designated ORV routes, trails and scramble areas. No ORV license or trail permit required.
  • Free Passport. The Recreation Passport requirement is waived, so you can build state parks and boating access sites into your itinerary.

While you’re out exploring, avoid giving invasive species a ride by cleaning mud, seeds and debris from vehicles, gear and clothing. Clean, Drain, Dry watercraft and trailers. Find more ways to take action at Michigan.gov/Invasives.

If the weekend inspires you to give back, check out Michigan.gov/DNRVolunteers to see which opportunities are right for you!


Find out what you need to know about didymo

The December 2021 discovery of didymo, an aquatic nuisance algae species also known as “rock snot,” in Michigan’s Upper Manistee River is a cause for concern for all river and stream users. Join us for the NotMISpecies webinar “Didymo: What you need to know” from 9 to 10 a.m. Thursday, June 9. It will provide an overview of didymo’s ecology, potential impacts on cold-water organisms, and what researchers are doing to better understand its spread, impacts and potential triggers.

Join our state parks team for $15 an hour

Looking for a summer job with flexible scheduling, a woods-and-water workplace and the chance to make memories with a great team? We’ve increased the starting hourly rate for seasonal state park workers to $15, and we’re looking for about 400 more people to to complete the ranks of the 1,300 workers needed every year to meet the needs of the summer travel season. Get started by expressing your interest at the seasonal park workers webpage or by texting “Hire” to 80888.

We recently launched a new website, and we’d love to hear what you think via this brief survey. Thanks for helping us improve our site for all users!

Free fishing, off-roading, state park entry-Weekend June 11-12

Free fishing, off-roading, state park entry-Weekend June 11-12

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DNR News

June 2, 2022
Contact: Jessica Holley-Roehrs (ORV), 517-331-3790; Sierra Williams (fishing), 517-230-8788 or Ron Olson (Recreation Passport), 517-243-1477

Free fishing, off-roading and state park entry – enjoy it all during Michigan’s ‘Three Free’ Weekend June 11-12

Mother and son fishing The Michigan Department of Natural Resources encourages everyone to take advantage of “Three Free” Weekend – Saturday, June 11, and Sunday, June 12 – two full days when residents and out-of-state visitors can grab a fishing rod, ride the off-road trails and visit state parks and boating access sites, all free of charge.
ORV“We have three big reasons for you to enjoy some of Michigan’s best outdoor recreation opportunities,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “Whether you’re already an avid outdoors-person or someone just beginning to explore all the options, our ‘Three Free’ Weekend makes it easy to discover a new hobby, visit a new park or introduce friends to an outdoor experience you love.”

These two days include:

  • Free Fishing Weekend. Fish for all in-season species, all weekend long, without a license. All other fishing regulations apply. To get more details or find a local event, visit Michigan.gov/FreeFishing.
  • Free ORV Weekend. Legally ride 4,000 miles of designated routes and trails and the state’s six scramble areas without purchasing an ORV license or trail permit. Visit Michigan.gov/ORVinfo for the latest ORV trail, safety and closure information.
  • Free state park entry. To encourage people to pursue free fishing and other outdoor fun, the DNR waives the regular Recreation Passport entry fee that grants vehicle access to Michigan’s 103 state parks, 1,300 state-managed boating access sites and many other outdoor spaces. Learn more about all the Passport provides at Michigan.gov/RecreationPassport.

Free Fishing and Free ORV weekends each take place on back-to-back days twice a year, but the “Three Free” Weekend happens only in June.

Protect yourself and the outdoors

For the best outdoor experiences, the DNR urges everyone to put safety first when enjoying Michigan’s woods, water and trails.

  • Helpful safety tips – for ORV, boating, beach, fire and other topics – are available at Michigan.gov/DNREducation in the Safety Information section.
  • Boaters can help prevent the spread of invasive species by removing mud and debris from all surfaces, draining water from all bilges, wells and tanks, and drying all equipment.
  • The DNR also encourages anglers to review fishing safety tips and other helpful information at Michigan.gov/HowToFish.

Additionally, the DNR encourages people to #RecreateResponsibly. Before you head out on the trails or water, visit our Do Your Part website to learn more about how you can stay safe and protect the health and beauty of our great state.


Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Caption information follows. Credit all photos to Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

  • Fishing: Residents and nonresidents can enjoy two days of free fishing without a license during “Three Free” Weekend. Get more details or find a local event at Michigan.gov/FreeFishing.
  • ORV: Michigan residents and nonresidents legally can ride 4,000 miles of designated routes and trails and the state’s six scramble areas without purchasing an ORV license or trail permit. Visit Michigan.gov/ORVinfo for ORV trail, safety and closure information.
  • Fishing pier: The Recreation Passport provides vehicle access to 103 state parks, some 1,300 boating access sites and parking for other outdoor spaces all year long. During “Three Free” Weekend, the Recreation Passport won’t be needed for state park entry.

 

We recently launched a new website, and we’d love to hear what you think via this brief survey. Thanks for helping us improve our site for all users!
DNR News Digest – Week of May 31, 2022

DNR News Digest – Week of May 31, 2022

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News Digest – Week of May 31, 2022

the pale green and gray head of a sturgeon, in shallow water, light shining through above, and the fish's shadow on the pebbled bottom

Read on to learn about the Blue Water Sturgeon Festival June 4 in Port Huron!

Here are just a few of this week’s stories from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at Michigan.gov/DNRPressRoom.

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of the images used below, and others, are available in this folder.


Photo ambassador snapshot: A Sleepy Hollow welcome

The entrance of Sleepy Hollow State Park, which features a wooden bear statue holiding a "Welcome" sign.Want to see more pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Mike Sonnenberg at Sleepy Hollow State Park in Clinton County? Visit Instagram.com/MiStateParks to explore photos and learn more about the photo ambassadors! For more on the photo ambassador program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182.


Nuisance geese ruffling your feathers? Try these tips

two adult black and tan Canada geese stand near their small groups of fluffy goslings, huddled together on a short, green lawn.Canada geese are a common sight on Michigan’s waters. In fact, they nest in every Michigan county, but are most common in the southern third of the state. You may even see and hear Canada geese all year in some parts of the state.

In June and July, these birds often are found on lakes and golf course ponds, feeding on lush lawns while molting – the annual loss of their flight feathers, which takes about two weeks. Canada geese are unable to fly during molting, so putting up a temporary barrier between your yard and the water may help keep flightless geese away from your property. Geese are especially attracted to lawns that are heavily fertilized, watered and mowed.

“If you live on a lake and geese frequently visit your yard, try making your lawn less attractive to them by allowing your grass to grow long and cutting down on fertilizer and water, or try planting shrubs to create a barrier between your lawn and the water,” said Barbara Avers, waterfowl and wetland specialist with the DNR.

Intentionally feeding Canada geese can attract them to the area as well, so don’t – especially if you are having conflicts with geese. Such artificial feeding can make them comfortable around people; it also can increase overcrowding and potentially spread disease among the birds.

“You may also want to use scare tactics to frighten them away without harming them,” said Avers. “Use a combination of loud noises such as shell crackers, bird alarms or bird bangers, distress cries, screamers and electronic noise systems, along with visual deterrents like bird scare balloons, Mylar scare tape and plastic flags.”

Additional information on how to handle conflicts with geese, including population control options that require a permit, is available at Michigan.gov/Wildlife.

Canada goose hunting season dates and bag limits can be found in the current Waterfowl Hunting Digest at Michigan.gov/Waterfowl.

Questions about goose conflicts or goose hunting? Contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.


Calling all volunteers: Step your way to cleaner forests

Four men in jeans and T-shirts carry old tires, a mattress and other garbage to a pickup truck parked on a dry, rutted, dirt roadStep, stride and snatch up trash during the summer Adopt-a-Forest challenge, the week between World Environment Day (June 5) and Get Outdoors Day (June 11). We want to see how far Adopt-a-Forest can take us!

Summer is a great time to trade the gym for the great outdoors and lend a hand while you’re at it. Volunteers are key to keeping the forests we love clean and beautiful, helping to protect nature and wildlife.

A neck buff featuring Smokey the BearTo join, organize your volunteer team, clean up a forest area in need of help and tell us how many steps or miles it took the team to clean up the dump site. Record your steps using a fitness tracker, pedometer or your phone’s health app. When you’re out on a cleanup site, make sure to wear sturdy boots, gloves and outdoor gear appropriate for the weather.

As a thank-you, we’ll send the first 100 volunteers a Smokey Bear buff to show off their outdoor pride this summer. You can wear this multi-functional wrap as a headband, bandana, neck gaiter or in many other ways.

How to get stepping

  1. Visit Michigan.gov/AdoptaForest to volunteer.
  2. Find dumpsites in your area using the Adopt-a-Forest dumpsite database.
  3. Head out to the forest and clean a dumpsite.
  4. Report cleanup information through the dumpsite database.
  5. Send steps taken/distance walked, a mailing address and any photos of your accomplishment to DNR-CleanForests@Michigan.gov.

Questions? Contact program coordinator Conor Haenni, 989-429-5542.


Blue Water Sturgeon Festival set for Saturday in Port Huron

a vintage-style graphic ad in dark teal, black, and bright orange and yellow, for the June 4 Sturgeon Festival in Port HuronWidely known as a “living fossil of the Great Lakes,” the lake sturgeon is a big part of Michigan fishing lore. Don’t miss the chance to learn more about the species – and have a lot of fun – at The Friends of the St. Clair River’s 9th annual Blue Water Sturgeon Festival.

Open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 4, at Lighthouse Park in Port Huron, the festival celebrates this gentle, prehistoric giant, a mascot for Great Lakes recovery. From the 1800s, lake sturgeon declined in the Great Lakes due to habitat loss and degradation and overfishing. Since the early 2000s, federal, state and tribal agencies have partnered in rehabilitating lake sturgeon.

For nine years now, thousands of people have gathered on shore each June to mark the migration of the sturgeon that return to the Blue Water area to spawn. Festivalgoers can enjoy a live sturgeon touch tank, hands-on activities, dozens of vendor booths, workshops, Native American drum ceremonies, hand-release of baby sturgeon, food trucks, live music and more. You can even “adopt a sturgeon” that scientists have tagged and are tracking in the wild.

At the festival, passengers can board the Huron Lady Sturgeon Cruise and experience a rare, close encounter with lake sturgeon underneath the Blue Water Bridge. The one-hour, narrated cruise takes riders on the St. Clair River and Lake Huron to interact with biologists who are catching, tagging and releasing the fish. The cruise sets off at 11 a.m. and tickets are $30. Festival admission is free.

Get full festival details at SturgeonFestival.com.


DNR firefighters responded to hundreds of fires in 2021

color cover of the 2021 DNR wildland fire report, with nine small pictures of fire crews, smoky landscapes, Smokey Bear and moreWhen smoke and flickering flames blaze across the landscape, red trucks with flashing lights and teams of DNR firefighters are close behind. Wildland firefighters arrive at the scene of hundreds of wildfires each year, ready to protect. Units battled 274 fires that burned 2,379 acres of land in 2021.

While 574 homes, businesses and structures were threatened, just 20 were destroyed – all outbuildings.

“We place a priority on saving homes whenever possible,” said DNR state fire supervisor Dan Laux. “Our firefighters are proud to defend their neighbors and communities from harm.”

The annual DNR wildland fire report shares further details on the 2021 fire season, including fire prevention efforts, fire causes and more. (It’s useful information for 2022, too; halfway through this year, DNR crews already have fought more than 140 wildfires!)

A key takeaway: the No. 1 cause of fires for 2021 again was yard debris burning, starting 34% of fires.

“It’s disappointing that debris burning, a preventable fire cause, continues to top the list every year,” said DNR fire prevention specialist Paul Rogers. “Safe burning saves lives. Don’t burn on a windy day, stay near your fire and always have a water source nearby.”

bottom part of a bright green rake, placed over a pile of dried, brown, curled leaves that are spread over green grassInstead of burning, consider other means of brush and leaf disposal such as chipping or composting.

Other major fire causes were escaped campfires (10%), power lines (9%) and equipment (8%). Equipment can cause fires when sparks from machinery ignite dry leaves, or when hot equipment brushes over long grass. Most fires, at 80%, originated on private property.

In addition to fighting fires, staff made improvements to forest roads, removed hazardous trees, assisted with forest health work and conducted 57 carefully planned prescribed burns to renew the landscape.

Prescribed burns are conducted to set back invasive plants and renew fire-dependent forest and grassland ecosystems. Burns benefit species such as turkeys and pheasants, the endangered Karner blue butterfly and the Kirtland’s warbler.

Learn about wildland firefighting and fire safety at Michigan.gov/FireManagement.


THINGS TO DO

If your plans include swimming, especially along the Great Lakes, be sure to brush up on beach safety before anyone goes near the water! Always have U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets for new or inexperienced swimmers, too.

BUY & APPLY

Summer is a great time to fit in recreation safety classes! Find a classroom-based hunting, boating, ORV, snowmobile, bowhunter or trapping class in your area, or a field day to complete your online or home study hunter education course.

GET INVOLVED

Do you have a favorite hiking trail? A quiet kayaking spot? Or the perfect pathway for a horseback ride? You can direct a donation today toward these and other trail uses; it’s easy and it elevates the work of our volunteers and trail partners.

We recently launched a new website, and we’d love to hear what you think via this brief survey. Thanks for helping us improve our site for all users!

DNR, Michigan State Police team up to fight wildland fires

DNR, Michigan State Police team up to fight wildland fires

 
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DNR News

June 1, 2022
Contact: Dan Laux (DNR), 517-256-6378 or Lt. Patrick Lawrence (Michigan State Police), 517-335-9900

DNR, Michigan State Police team up to fight wildland fires

A Michigan Stae Police helicopter teamed with a DNR "Bambi Bucket" is now a key tool available for fighting wildland fires. An idea first conceived in 2016 has become reality – and likely will be a big help in fighting future wildland fires in Michigan.

Earlier this month, a Michigan State Police UH-1 helicopter, known best as a “Huey,” hovered low over a northern Michigan lake to fill with water a 320-gallon collapsible bucket owned by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The Huey carried the water back to the fire area and released its load to calm the flames.

The devices are commonly referred to by the trade name, “Bambi Bucket.” Though some assume the bucket’s name is somehow connected to the famed Disney deer, industry lore says that inventor Don Arney – a 2017 National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee – made up the name as a joke. It stuck.

“It’s another important tool in the toolbox when it comes to fighting fires,” said Dan Laux, Fire Section manager for the DNR’s Forest Resources Division. “The Bambi Bucket can help in the early stages of a fire to keep it manageable, keep it small, especially in an area that’s hard to access.”

A cooperative effort years in the making

A Michigan State Police helicopter equipped with a Bambi Bucket carries a load of water over the forest.  When a fire is burning hot, dropping water also can help cool it down so crews on the ground can get near it more safely.

“We’ve worked with the DNR for years on different projects within Aviation and outside of Aviation, and this is further expanding the cooperation between the two agencies,” said Lt. Patrick Lawrence, chief pilot for the Michigan State Police Aviation Unit.

The idea was initially presented to the State Police by former DNR Fire Section leader Jim Fisher and pilot Bill Green in 2016, both of whom have since retired.

The Michigan State Police acquired the helicopter from federal military surplus. Flying with the bucket requires a crew of three – a pilot, a radio communicator and a bucket operator.

Meanwhile, DNR fire staff worked to purchase the bucket, which costs about $25,000, with federal grant money.

The two agencies also had to craft a plan for how the partnership would work.

“This was a great opportunity to utilize existing aerial resources within the state for wildfire suppression. Michigan State Police and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources programs saw the mutual benefit of working together to protect natural resources, life and property during wildfire events. The addition of the Bambi Bucket adds to the long history of collaboration between the two agencies,” said Kevin Jacobs, DNR aviation manager.

For the past couple of years, on days with high fire danger, the helicopter flies from its base in Lansing to stand by in Roscommon. From there it can respond quickly to places in the northern Lower Peninsula.

The results are effective

“We want to support both agencies where it makes sense, and this is absolutely an arena where working together is good for the people of Michigan and good for both agencies,” Lawrence said.

He flew the first mission May 9 as air support to contain a fire south of Kirtland Community College’s Roscommon campus.

“It felt good to support the guys on the ground and help them get the fire under control,” Lawrence said.

Laux said a second mission, on a fire near Grayling May 14, was also effective.

“It was a huge save in keeping that fire under 20 acres,” he said.

So far in 2022, the DNR has worked to suppress 138 fires covering more than 2,900 acres across the state. Learn more about the department’s wildland firefighting efforts at Michigan.gov/FireManagement.


Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Caption information follows.

  • Helicopter and bucket:  A helicopter owned by the Michigan State Police is paired with a “Bambi Bucket” that is used to scoop water to fight wildland fires. Photo credit: Michigan State Police.
  • Action! The Michigan State Police UH-1 or “Huey” helicopter drops a 320-gallon load of water over the forest. In an example of interagency cooperation, the helicopter is used with a DNR-owned water-scooping bucket to fight wildland fires. Photo credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
  • Video: The helicopter drops a load of water. Video credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

 

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